Jalandhar: Only a Sikh NGO has managed to submit a memorandum to visiting French President through the French authorities on the issue of ban on turban in public schools in France, while Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee could not take up the issue either through a memo or a meeting.
United Sikhs representatives submitted their memo to French ambassador at Chandigarh on Saturday evening a day before President Francois Hollande landed at the city.
"It was after our continuous perusal with the French officials. We had also requested for a brief meeting with the President. We were told to submit the memo to the ambassador which we did on Saturday late evening as asked by the Embassy officials," said United Sikhs director Gurpreet Singh. "We are still seeking a brief meeting with the visiting President," he added. When contacted SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said that they had written to PM and to French Embassy to seek appointment with French president to take up the issue of ban on turbans in schools and also urged the PM to take up the case but they did not get response from either quarters. Asked if there was any response from the PMO, Makkar replied in negative.
Meanwhile Sikh organizations; United Sikhs, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Institute of Sikh Studies, International Sikh Confederation, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Panthic Tal Mel Sangathan, Shiromani Akali Dal Panch Pradhani, Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat sent a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister asking if his government had raised the turban ban issue with the French President, Francois Hollande, during his visit to Chandigarh on Sunday.
"In particular, we ask what efforts did the Punjab Chief Minister made to raise this issue with the visiting French President and what is the outcome," said Gurpreet Singh of United Sikhs. The letter asked the Punjab CM what steps he or his government had taken to date to convince the French government that the turban ban should be lifted.
It may be recalled here that in February 2013 when President Hollande visited India, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) organized a protest in Delhi asking the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to exert pressure on the French government to lift the ban on turban in schools. SAD (B) Delhi unit president Manjit Singh GK, who led the protest, had pointed out that when Indian government was signing deals worth crores with him it should take up the matter with visiting President. However this time SAD's posture appeared much mellowed down. On Monday GK issued a statement saying that he had written a letter to French President urging him to lift the ban.